Tag Archives: Best U.S. backpacking trips

February 11, 2019 A backpacker on the Pitamakan Pass-Dawson Pass traverse in Glacier National Park.

America’s Top 10 Best Backpacking Trips

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By Michael Lanza

What makes a great backpacking trip? I’ve thought about that more than a mentally stable person probably should, having done many of America’s (and the world’s) most beautiful and beloved multi-day hikes over the years. Certainly top-shelf scenery is mandatory. An element of adventurousness enhances a hike, in my eyes. As I assembled this top 10 list, longer trips seemed to dominate it—there’s something special about a big walk in the wilderness—but two- and three-day hikes also made my list. Another factor that truly matters is a wilderness experience: All 10 are in national parks or wilderness areas.

In the final analysis, though, the only criterion that matters is simple: that it’s a great trip. And that character shows itself over and over in my picks for the 10 best backpacking trips in the country, selected from the many I’ve taken over more than a quarter-century (and counting) of carrying a backpack, both as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and creator of this blog. Continue reading →

February 10, 2019 Baron Lake, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Photo Gallery: Mountain Lakes of Idaho’s Sawtooths

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By Michael Lanza

I may be risking an impassioned debate here, but I think there are very few mountain ranges in America with as many drop-dead, gorgeous high mountain lakes as Idaho’s Sawtooths. In fact, the only ranges that arguably beat out the Sawtooths in that department may be the High Sierra and Wind River Range (and not coincidentally, the three share other similarities, including geology). In 20 years of wandering around Idaho’s best-known hills, I’ve seen many of those watery jewels. This gallery of photos from many of them may persuade you to agree with me. Continue reading →

January 28, 2019 A backpacker at Burro Pass, above Matterhorn Canyon in Yosemite National Park.

The 5 Best Backpacking Trips in Yosemite

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By Michael Lanza

After years of exploring all over Yosemite on numerous backpacking trips, I’ve learned two lessons about it: Few places possess Yosemite’s breadth and variety of scenery and inspire the same powerful sense of adventure. And its backcountry harbors such an abundance of soaring granite peaks, jagged skylines, rushing creeks, waterfalls, and shimmering alpine lakes—plus, over 700,000 acres of designated wilderness and 750 miles of trails—that you can take many, many trips in America’s third national park without running out of five-star scenery.

There’s only one Yosemite, and it unquestionably belongs on any list of the best national park backpacking trips. Continue reading →

January 21, 2019 Backpackers on the High Sierra Trail in Sequoia National Park.

Photo Gallery: 10 Awe-Inspiring Wild Places

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By Michael Lanza

Over many years of taking wilderness trips of all kinds, I’ve gotten pickier about my backpacking and other backcountry adventures. The best-known trails, peaks, and wilderness waters are usually beautiful; but sometimes, for various reasons, they just don’t do it for me. More and more, I seek out the places and multi-day adventures that inspire a powerful sense of awe. It often requires getting farther from civilization, onto paths less traveled, and occasionally entails greater physical, navigational, or technical challenges. But those adventures feel wilder. And that’s what I’m after.

The 10 places shown in the photos below are exactly that: They still remain wild. Continue reading →

December 30, 2018 Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park.

5 Reasons You Must Backpack the Teton Crest Trail

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By Michael Lanza

On the second night of my first backpacking trip in Grand Teton National Park, I awoke to the sound of heavy clomping outside my tent. We were camped on Death Canyon Shelf, where the Teton Crest Trail traverses a broad, boulder- and wildflower-strewn bench at 9,500 feet, flanked by towering cliffs and the deep trench of Death Canyon. At the time, it was probably the most spectacular place I’d ever pitched a tent, and it’s still one of my most scenic backcountry campsites ever.

I unzipped my tent door to investigate—and saw a huge bull elk standing just outside my nylon walls. As I’ve come to learn over almost 20 trips to the Tetons since that first one a quarter-century ago, that elk symbolized just one of several compelling reasons why every backpacker should move the Teton Crest Trail to the top of their to-do list. And the date to apply for a backcountry permit is coming up very soon. Continue reading →

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